Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Why I Make Home-made Bread, and Why You Should Try It, Too

First of all, let me qualify everything that I am about to say: I don’t always have homemade bread in the house.  Life happens and schedules don’t always go as planned. In fact, since my thyroid tanked earlier in the year, this has been a great struggle for me, and as my life is slowly getting back to normal, making bread is one my highest priorities. I would like to introduce you to the concept and offer you some information about why you should consider adding this very rewarding task to your calendar.

My experience began as I started looking for homeschooling materials on the internet. Homeschooling, in many ways, is tied to traditional families pursuing traditional lifestyles, with many families seeking to return to a simpler way of life from days gone by. I have always been a home-body at heart, and I realized that I wanted that simpler lifestyle for my family, although our family is not the traditional-mom-at-home-and-living-on-acres-of-land-in-the-country-with-chickens-and-goats-and-cows-and-huge-garden family. I thought that making bread for my family would be a good place to start.

My first excursions into the world of homemade bread-making were less than successful, however. I followed the recipe in the book which came with our KitchenAid mixer, and although the loaves were tasty, they were rather heavy and dry. I began doing more internet research and I learned how much healthier bread is when it is made with freshly milled grain (white flour products, by the way, should be avoided at all costs if possible). Then, I discovered Marilyn Moll’s site, The Urban Homemaker, where I bought wheat berries for the first time and a grain mill. [PLEASE NOTE: You do NOT have to have a grain mill or buy wheat berries to make homemade bread. But I’ll supply you with some sources if you desire to go down this road.]

After not seeing success in producing lighter, less dense loaves, I sought advice again from The Urban Homemaker and found Marilyn’s award-winning bread recipe. Having great success with this recipe, I knew I had to find a way to make the process take less time. From this need arose my first Bread Kits. I’ll be sharing the time-saving method and the recipe in an upcoming post.

As time went on, I made bread intermittently. I experienced some health problems related to my thyroid problem, and we moved toward a healthier lifestyle inspired by The South Beach Diet – so we had begun to move in the right direction. About this time I noticed more and more people talking on the homeschooling and homesteading forums I follow about something called Nourishing Traditions. I became curious, but not enough to spend a lot of time researching the topic – until I came across a copy of the book in a used book store (and for only $8!!).

After reading the book, I felt led to make more changes in our diet. While not all of the recommendations in the book are realistic for most families (including ours) there are quite a few that I could implement in our household, one of which concerns the treatment of cereal grains prior to ingestion.

In Nourishing Traditions (p 452), we learn that there is a compound in the grain called phytic acid, which is an enzyme inhibitor. Phytic acid is present to keep the nutrients in the seed usable until the time that the seed sprouts and needs them. However, this compound which acts to help the seed can be harmful to us when we ingest it, as it will do exactly what God has designed it to do, which is to act as an enzyme inhibitor, once it is in our digestive systems.

This is bad for our digestive systems because we need our digestive enzymes to work properly in order to extract the nutrients we need from our foods. Soaking the grains, or “lacto-fermenting” them, uses the beneficial bacteria found in buttermilk to predigest the flour, essentially neutralizing the harmful effects of the phytic acid inherent in the grain, and releasing the nutrients bound up in the seed. In addition, the bread made from the soaked flour is softer than bread made from unsoaked flour.  At this point I modified the recipe I had been using into the “NT Friendly” recipe I use today. I’ll be sharing this as well as the method for preparing these Bread Kits, also in an upcoming post.

As a working-and-homeschooling mom, I realize that there are only so many hours in the day, and I also realize that you are probably just as busy as I am. Therefore, rest assured that my hints and suggestions are designed to help you through the process in the least amount of time possible.

So, stay with me on this one; we’ll get through it in a series of posts over the next few days. It’s going to be a fun ride!

There is joy on this journey, on my way home to my Father’s house,
Cindy <><

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